News of a triple homicide in Des Moines that was allegedly carried out by an illegal alien has shifted the focus of Iowa politics back to immigration. The incident takes place just about one year since the disappearance and murder of Mollie Tibbetts, who was also allegedly killed by an illegal alien.

Marvin Oswaldo Escobar-Orellana, the man suspected of committing the triple homicide, had been deported twice already, according to ICE. Rossibeth Flores-Rodriguez, 29; Grecia Daniela Alvarado-Flores, 11; and Ever Jose Mejia-Flores, 5 were the victims in the triple homicide.

According to court records, Esquivel-Lopez appeared in court on Monday, one day before the triple homicide, due to a traffic ticket. Esquivel-Lopez has a lengthy history of traffic infractions.

Polk County was one of about two dozen Iowa counties identified as a “sanctuary county” in the past because it would not honor ICE detainer requests, according to the ACLU.

However, in 2018, the Iowa legislature passed a law that imposed financial sanctions against local governments that fail to cooperate with federal officials in enforcing immigration laws.

Some agencies revisited their policy after that law took effect. It is not known what Polk County Sheriff’s position is on the issue right now, but we have sent an email seeking when or if the policy has changed.

Lieutenant Heath Osberg, Public Information Officer for Polk County Sheriff, said if ICE provides a 247 form (which he said is a request to hold an individual) along with a form 200 or 205 (which he described as like a warrant), then Polk County will hold the individual for 48 hours.

“Within that time ICE needs to file, I believe a form 203, which is the detainer itself,” Osberg said. “If they fail to do so in their allotted time, then we remove the hold.”
Osberg said he could not give dates and actual codes as far as the county’s current policy.

He filled the role of PIO in December of 2018 and had not paid attention to the issue previously.

“But basically we abide by all state and federal laws,” he said. “If they submit the proper paper work, it’s still a federal law and we abide by those because we’re a law enforcement agency first.”

A form 247 submitted without the support documentation to go with it — say a 200 or a 205, would not be honored.

Osberg said everyone charged with a serious misdemeanor and above gets finger printed. Someone who comes in for driving while suspended — a simple misdemeanor — may not get printed.

ICE, Osberg said, is its own entity.

“We have agents assigned to the Des Moines area who are proactive,” he said. “They very much know what is going on in town. Des Moines (PD) didn’t call them to the scene or let them know they arrested that guy. Polk County didn’t initiate anything when the guy was brought to jail and booked in. This was all initiated by ICE. That’s how they work.”

For Polk County Sheriff’s part, Osberg said he doesn’t know if people in custody are even asked about immigration status.

“It’s not really kind of what we’re after,” he said. “ICE is aware of the crimes and stuff that happens in the area and they’re the ones who take action on immigration issues. Polk County is caught up in it obviously because of the jail, but we don’t actively ask the people what their immigration status is.”

Jacob Hall

Author: Jacob Hall